Get the look: Clear base nails

  • 06 Aug - 12 Aug, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Beauty

Nail designs with a clear base can provide exactly the sort of chic middle ground between a manicure that's bare, classic and minimal, and a manicure that's fun, colourful and expressive. After all, simple doesn't have to mean boring, and keeping the base clean means the design on top can really shine. Carrying on the skinimalism trend that's dominated makeup trends, a beautifully bare base can ensure your mani looks extra neat, clean and polished by focusing on healthy nails first, before layering them with loads of polish on top. But you can have a little fun with it too by incorporating dinky neon details, glam metallic accents or creating spins on graphic lines. Some are even simple enough to do yourself at home, even if you're a nail novice. If not we've lined up our favourite designs to take with you on your next salon visit.

Seeing stars

With the right nail art tools, you can do pretty much anything – including making your manicure resemble the night sky. For this clear, colourful version, pick your favourite hues and some sweet star stencils.

Gold details

A few delicate gold dots and some clear polish is all you need to recreate this look at home. When recreating this look at home, try applying gold nail stickers or appliques if you lack the steady hand to paint these tiny dots with polish.

Blue checkered

Instead of going the traditional route, with black and white checks, this patterned design utilises the nail's natural colour, pairing it with bold and vibrant blue.

Just the tips

Meet the modern update to French tips. With a clear, dip manicure, you can try these abstract tips with any shades you prefer, but we're partial to the ultra-chic, black-and-white version created with acrylic colour.

Wavy, baby

As far as we're concerned, you can't go wrong with a black-and-white nail pattern – but you can make an even bolder impact by adding negative space to the equation, like in a wavy, artistic design.

Monochrome florals

If florals are usually too cutesy for you ditch pastels in favour of a monochrome design. A '60s black and white floral is pretty, but tough and can upgrade a simple outfit without feeling fussy thanks to the minimal base.

Black lines

Over a clear coat, try micro-strokes of black colour to mimic the arch of your nail tip for something simple-yet-striking.

Add some sparkle

Make an impact with bold, dark hues contrasted with clear polish – and feel free to add some sparkly appliqués for good measure.


A neon-hued abstract look having pink, yellow, and orange abstract swirl patterns on the side of each nail is what we want for now. Keeping the base clear adds an artful contrast.


A unique look seeking pixelated squares over clear nails is what we’re thinking. You can cut out shapes to keep the lines super strong here or use a toothpick to create the squares.

Marbled rainbow lines

This look can be replicated using a variety of nail polish colours. Just create a line down the centre of each nail with a different dot of polish, then use a toothpick to draw a line from the base of the nail down. The result will be a rainbow-hued marble line.

Blue and white crescents

A swipe of clear base coat goes on first. Then, to replicate this look, you'll make small crescent shapes in varying shades of blue and white. The result offers a Venn diagram of colours.

Fairy dust

A rounded shape, a few swipes of subtle glitter polish, and you have a design fit for day or night.